Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Typing of the Dead Overkill: trying to touch type

I played the original Tying of the Dead quite a lot, both on the Dreamcast and the PC.  The Dreamcast version was a bit of a faff, since it was a US import which therefore required a boot disc and crossed fingers, and you could never be sure it wasn't going to corrupt your VMU.  The PC game was more accessible, except I never really had a gaming PC that could do it justice.  I still have the disc, somewhere.

When I heard that The House of the Dead Overkill was to get the same treatment, I was a little excited.  When I learnt that it had just been released on Steam around five minutes later, I was more excited and went to download it.  It's not like me to buy something without seeing any reviews or impressions from trusted sources, but, well, it's The Typing of the Dead.  I was glad that I bought it even before I started to play, after I learnt of the game's troubled development and eventual rescue.

Firstly, the bad news.  Unlike the first TotD game, which was based on The House of the Dead 2, the characters aren't wearing Dreamcasts on their backs with a bizarre keyboard lap tray.  Instead, the graphics are completely unchanged, which means that they must be using incredibly bizarre guns.

The core gameplay remains the same, though.  Zombies appear and shamble towards you; you must type the word that appears next to them.  As soon as you do so, they are killed.  Kill them before they kill you, and all is rosy.

This would all be fine if I was a decent touch typist.  I'm not - despite me being able to type entire sentences of reports without looking at the keyboard, it appears that as soon as it's no longer about economics, I need to see which letters I'm hitting.  And this then causes issues, because I can't see when new zombies appear, I can't see which ones are running towards me rather than ambling, I can't see when something is thrown and I need to press a single key quickly.

There is a mechanic in the game where if an enemy starts to approach you faster, you can cancel your current word by pressing backspace, and start the new word.  Guess what I need to do in order to hit backspace?  Look at the keyboard.

I made a conscious effort to look at the screen.  My accuracy dropped right down, but all the time I was typing normal words my keyboard mashing was working OK.  But then this happened:

And it wasn't just phalanges.  As soon as I was having to type single letters in order to spell the word, my typing rhythm disappeared and I started to panic.

Having said that, I got through the first chapter fine, before leaving it for now.  I will be back, though - just maybe after getting a better keyboard.  Or a Mac version.

1 comment:

Ross Graham said...

I can't agree more. I never had the original TotD for the same reason. my PC couldn't run it. now i'm finally studding programming I need to unlearn what I have conditioned myself into and finally learn touch typing. I was so excited that I would finally get to do this in a game. Alas (a word i learned from a DLC pack) it's not that easy in this. I remember watching the orignal had introductory difficulty levels where words ranged from j, k to jk, kj and even at time jjk. These are the fisrt to letters you'd need to learn in touch typing as it's where your index fingers sit. But in TodD: Overkill. theres no introduction. you need to type all kinds of 4 letter works. very, very fast.